Toddler dies in hot car while mom worked 7-hour shift at Hooters
PHOENIX (AP) ” A woman who found her 1-year-old son dead in her hot, stuffy car after she worked her seven-hour shift as a Hooters waitress has been arrested, police said Wednesday.
Ashly Duchene, 22, was booked into the Maricopa County jail Wednesday on a felony count of negligent homicide.
Duchene usually dropped the boy off at a day-care center on her way to work, but failed to do so Tuesday, police Sgt. Joel Tranter said.
Instead, she left her son, Ryan Gallagher, in the car when she arrived at the restaurant about 10 a.m., police said. When she returned after her shift at nearly 5 p.m., he was dead.
Efforts to revive the boy by witnesses, officers and firefighters were unsuccessful. Temperatures hit nearly 90 degrees Tuesday, but it would have been more than 100 degrees inside the car, Tranter said.
Duchene told police she walked to her car, unlocked the driver’s door, sat in the vehicle and immediately realized she had forgotten she had left Ryan in the back seat.
Authorities said Duchene was hysterical and immediately summoned help.
Tranter said one factor that led to the negligence charge was that Duchene told officials she remembered glancing at her son in the rearview mirror on her way to work that day.
Duchene said the boy had recently spent a few weeks out of town with his grandfather and that she had gotten out of the habit of dropping him off before work, according to a Maricopa County Superior Court document.
Authorities do not believe Duchene intentionally left the boy in the car.
“At this point, we have not substantiated anything that shows she deliberately left the child in car,” Tranter said. “Otherwise it would be a regular homicide. We don’t believe that’s the case.”
Officials believe the boy, who was in a car seat, was invisible to people going in and out of the restaurant and a nearby car wash because the car has tinted windows.
A request to interview Duchene was not immediately answered by police Wednesday.
The restaurant was closed Wednesday and was holding counseling sessions for employees.
“Our company is deeply saddened by this terrible tragedy,” said Melanie Gulmetti, a regional marketing manager. “Our thoughts are with the mother and her family. We are cooperating fully with authorities.”
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